Impact of deprescribing dual-purpose medications on patient-related outcomes for older adults near end-of-life: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Shakti Shrestha*, Arjun Poudel, Magnolia Cardona, Kathryn Steadman, Lisa Nissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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The decision to deprescribe medications used for both disease prevention and symptom control (dual-purpose medications or DPMs) is often challenging for clinicians. We aim to establish the impact of deprescribing DPMs on patient-related outcomes for older adults near end-of-life (EOL).

This systematic review was conducted according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guideline. Literature was searched on PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO and Google Scholar until December 2019 for studies on deprescribing intervention with a control group (with or without randomisation); targeting ⩾65-year olds, at EOL, with at least one life-limiting illness and at least one potentially inappropriate DPM. We were interested in any patient-related outcomes. Studies with similar outcome assessment criteria were subjected to meta-analysis and narrative synthesis otherwise. The risk of bias was assessed using Cochrane Risk of Bias and ROBINS-I tools for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-experimental non-randomised controlled studies, respectively.

Five studies covering 689 participants with mean age 81.6–85.7 years, the majority (74.6–100%) with dementia were included. The risk of bias was moderate to low. The deprescribing of DPMs lowered the risk of mortality (risk ratio (RR) = 0.59, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.44–0.79) and referral to acute care facilities (RR = 0.40, 95% CI = 0.22–0.73), but did not have a significant impact on the risk of falls, non-vertebral fracture, emergency presentation, unplanned hospital admission, or general practitioner visits. No significant difference was observed in the quality of life, physical and cognitive functions between the intervention and control groups.

There is some evidence that deprescribing of DPMs for older adults near the EOL can lower the risk of mortality and referral to acute care facilities, but there are insufficient good-quality studies powered to confirm a benefit in terms of quality of life, physical or cognitive function, health service utilisation and adverse events.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Drug Safety
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


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